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BOOK REVIEW: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

BOOK REVIEW: A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. SchwabA Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
by V.E. Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell's possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland's dying body through the rift – back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games – an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries – a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

 

And then in the silence, he heard a sound: not a sob, or a scream, but a laugh.
And it took him a moment to recognize the voice.
It was his.

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2016 has by far been one of my most rewarding reading years yet, beginning with almost 90% win and so little loss. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve taken what I’ve learned and I have applied it to almost every book I might read, making it extremely easy to see what might work for me…and what won’t. It’s not a fool proof system, I’ll admit, but it certainly makes it easier when there is a bad book thrown in here or there. It’s not near as annoying as when I consistently am reading crap. But, with all this epicness so early in the year, there are also some fears arising, as well…and that’s if I can keep up all this win-It’s a long year, and there’s still a lot of disappointment to be had (Like a couple ends to a few of my favorite series that fell flat, unfortunately). But one thing is an absolute certainty: In a sea of losers, when it comes to second books in series and such, I never had any doubt about how amazing the Darker Shade second book would be….and I have no doubt that the end will take my breath away.

But he’d missed her, and with the city so overrun, how was he supposed to find her again?
Just follow the knives, said a voice in his head. And the bodies they’re lodged in.

I have this curse, you see, where I HATE second books-almost always. I will admit that that’s began to change as of late, but I still find that a few eek in here and there. More often than not, though, it seems the third and final books have been the largest problem: Lack of execution, not tying things up, changing the whole premise of the story, changing characters, etc. etc.-And it has been a large disappointment, more often than not. It’s starting to make the second book curse look tame!! But no, when I picked this book up, I immediately felt my weary muscles relax, my mood lighten, and my heart begin to beat faster and faster.

Dangerous.
Reckless.
Foolish.
Mad.

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It doesn’t matter that this fell into one of my least favorite second book tropes (was it a trope, though?? It was kind of a choice?), because every sentence, every page, every little thing was written so beautifully and made it so you couldn’t help to read one more page, one more chapter…and then, before you knew it, you were ten more percent in and still couldn’t stop.

Lila stopped drawing her finger through the cider, and no one noticed that the spilled liquid kept moving, tracing patterns across the wood.
Someone set a fresh drink in front of her.
Alucard was calling for attention.
“To London,” he said, raising his glass.
Lila raised her own.
“To London,” she said, smiling like a knife.

These characters just have a way about them. It’s not so much that they are different from other characters we love, adore, cherish, admire, obsess about-No, it’s not that. It’s something in their chemistry, in their DNA, something that, immediately upon meeting them, crawled under your skin without you even realizing it. It’s something that made you think about them long after you had closed the book. It’s something that had you thinking about them in the dark, longing for more of their adventure deep into the night. You just have this deeper understanding of them….and yet you still want to know more.

He didn’t have anything on his person, and they wouldn’t be able to find anything in his coat, not unless he wanted it to be found. He sometimes worried that the coat had a mind of its own. The only other person who’d ever managed to find what they wanted in its pockets was Lila. He’d never found out how she’d done that. Traitorous coat.

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I can’t even begin to explain how much I adore this story, for I can’t think of many books where something I hate becomes a giggle fest for me. A sleight of hand. A shadow in the corner. A lingering thought. A hopeless wish, or maybe even a longing so deep they saw each other everywhere-it’s the simplest thing, yet it gets under your skin and becomes a part of you. I adore these characters so intensely that it became a visceral thing when one of them would hurt, when one of them would cry, when one of them was in absolute pain. And I know you all probably think it’s all Kell and all Lila…but it’s not-Not even close.

As a thief in the night, Lila Bard knew that staying out of the light was the surest way to stay alive, but she couldn’t help it, she relished this kind of trick. Standing right in front of a mark while you pocketed their coins. Smiling while you stole. Looking them in the eye and daring them to see past the ruse. Because the best tricks were the ones pulled off not while the mark’s back was turned, but while they were watching.

There’s Rhy. There’s Alucard. There’s Calla. And, ya know, there’s Lila’s crew…but that’s beside the point-YOU GET THE PICTURE. Rhy and Alucard became two characters who I couldn’t live without, simply because they meant the world to my lovely Kell and my fierce Lila-they were central to the story and not only added to it, but enhanced every single scene. They brought forth extreme visceral, intense emotion that caused the most amazing feelings-Pain, heartache. Soul-crushing love. Unyielding friendship. Loyalty….Jealousy. Like I said, there really is no emotion I haven’t felt while reading this series, and I can’t help but to want to re-read it already. In fact, I could read these two books over and over and over again. But I’m at work (SHHHHH, my laptop has gone to SHIT) and I can’t keep going on and on and on and…..yeah, I love this story, this could go on for a while. So! I will get onto what I want to anyway: My two beautiful lovebirds, Kell and Lila.

I am Delilah Bard, she thought. Pirate, thief, magician.
Her fingertips began to thrum.
I have crossed worlds and taken ships. Fought queens and saved cities.
Her bones shuddered and her blood raced.
I am one of a kind.

Lila is a stubborn little shit, I’ll admit, especially in this one, but she is so damn loyal, fierce, and she has a thirst for life I can’t help but to admire. She longs to see the world, and she is finally seeing it…but she can’t help but to think back to the boy with one beautiful eye and one black, his face set in a perpetual frown with a little crease between his brows (Hey, I didn’t say Lila was the only one who loved him….). And what better way to see him than to compete in the Essen Tasch…a deadly competition showcasing magic from some of the most skilled magicians in their world-Something so dangerous only Lila would find a way into it.

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“What brings you to my room?” he asked, relief bleeding into annoyance.
“Adventure. Intrigue. Brotherly concern. Or,” continued the prince lazily, “perhaps I’m just giving your mirror something to look at besides your constant pout.”
Kell frowned, and Rhy smiled. “Ah, there it is! That famous scowl.”
“I don’t scowl,” grumbled Kell.

And then my Kell…my darling Kell. This book was hard for him, in more ways than one. He is lonely. He is tortured from the events in the previous installment (subtly so, but still there). He has a restlessness inside him that is unparalleled to anything he has ever felt before. And, now more than ever, he feels like he doesn’t belong with the family he was brought into…only Rhy makes him feel as he always has-Like a brother. They love each other so intensely, and it is beautiful to see-and then I just love their banter….it keeps Kell grounded and gives Rhy joy to make the forever frowning Kell smile or laugh.

“How subtle,” said Kell tonelessly.
“You could at least pretend to be grateful.”
“And you couldn’t have picked something a little more…I don’t know…imposing? A serpent? A great beast? A bird of prey?”
“A bloody handprint?” retorted Rhy. “Oh, what about a glowing black eye?”
Kell glowered.

But my point in saying all that is he and Rhy are closer than ever *insert eye brow raise here* but there is something darker inside them, something that makes it harder to be who they once were. They feel the gravity of it weighing them down each passing day-They are beginning to feel suffocated and have no way to release it.

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But Kell would do literally anything for his brother, something we saw many times in the last book, but we now see that Rhy would do the same…and it warmed my soul.

He tipped his chin up so the men could see his eyes, and took a measure of grim satisfaction as the color bled from their faces. And then footsteps sounded, and Kell turned to find more men pouring into the alley. Drunk and angry and armed. Something stirred in him.
His heart raced, and magic surged through his veins. He felt something on his face, and it took him a moment to realize he was smiling.

It was so hard to see how deeply Kell’s loneliness went, how it effected him every moment of every day…and how he buried it deep within himself so he could continue to help his brother. But when his brother comes to him with a proposition so dangerous, so deadly, so…..exciting, Kell can’t help but to consider it. He’s an Antari…so he can’t compete…but will they find a way around that loophole?? And, most importantly, why can’t he stop thinking about his sharp-edged girl with two differently shaded brown eyes with a knack for knives, thievery, and trouble…and why does he see her in every little person, shadow, and alley?

“Hello,” said Lila.
“Hello,” said Kell. “Where have you been?”
Lila smirked. “Why, did you miss me?”
Kell opened his mouth. Closed it. Opened it again before finally managing to answer, “Yes.”

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This story was naturally made for me, what with all the danger, the peril, the competition, the friendship, passion, and loyalty. I loved the pulse-pounding ending and this whole story, really, but the first admittedly holds my heart, if I’m being honest. I just wanted people to know-the first may not be everyone’s favorite-but it’s mine *shrugs* I can’t help it!!! I just adore first books SO MUCH!!! But, more than that, Kell makes this series for me. I love the writing, the atmosphere, everything about it….but Kell keeps me coming back because I adore every little thing about him. He would do anything for his brother Rhy….but he would for Lila, too. He’d risk his life a million times over for them, and my heart swells even now as I type this out. He has my heart, and so does this series. I know I will surely die of anticipation before February 2017….but it will be completely worth the wait. And I know a certain Snake will be more than happy to finish this adventure with me. KELL!! ♥

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My feels for this series in GIF form…

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OMGGGGG MY POOR BOOOY!!!!! I just love this series and Kell so so much! What a cruel thing to have to wait until 2017 for the finale to this absolutely breathtaking, soul-crushing, heartbreaking series.

I can’t believe this series has reached me on such a deep, emotional level, but it has…I am completely obsessed with it. From it’s characters to the setting to the intricate plot, there isn’t a moment in either book where I haven’t loved and adored it.

These characters have such loyalty, such deep, heart-felt connections to those surrounding them-you just can’t help but get sucked into the magic that is this world.

I cannot WAIT to write a review for book two of one of my favorite series EVER!!! 😛

RTC (I WILL DO THIS)

BOOK REVIEW: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

BOOK REVIEW: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
by V.E. Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.

Are you afraid of dying? Holland had asked him in the alley. And Kell was. Had always been, ever since he could remember. He feared not living, feared ceasing to exist. Lila’s world may believe in Heaven and Hell, but his believed in dust.

Gawd…will there ever be enough words to cover all the adoration and love I have for these wonderful books?? After I finish, I always know just what I want to say…and then I finally get the chance to write a review and it’s like, how in the world do you find the words-different words that aren’t the same old repetitive thing-to express your extreme obsession without always sounding like a babbling fangirl??

She kicked loose a stone. “Well, I mean, it’s another world, isn’t it? Another version of London? Is there another version of me?”
Kell frowned. “I’ve never met anyone like you.”
He hadn’t meant it as a compliment, but Lila took it that way, flashing him a grin. “What can I say,” she said, “I’m one of a kind.”

Well, I can’t guarantee this won’t be the case many times over…but I can guarantee that I will always try to do my best-for both my friends who have come to rely on my thoughts and for those who have chosen to trust me blindly-to be fair and explain things in the most beneficial way possible. There are many authors you will find that own my heart completely, making it hard to be totally unbiased…but I still try to explain things in a way people who don’t worship the author might be able to relate to. And most surprisingly, as it pertains to this review, this author is actually one of my closet obsessions.

“Pretty thing,” whispered an old woman from a doorway in Maktahm. “Pretty skin. Pretty bones.”
“This way, Master,” called another.
“Come inside.”
“Rest your feet.”
“Rest your bones.”
“Pretty bones.”
“Pretty blood.”
“Drink your magic.”
“Eat your life.”
“Come inside.”

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Not many of you knew me when I read [DEVOURED] The Archived series. Wes stole my heart in a matter of chapters, taking me completely by surprise. None of my friends had read it and no one really joined me (WHOOPS! AMENDED! My darling snake read with me! How could I forget…..), so I was [kind of] on my own for this little adventure. So, fast forward a year or so, and I hear that this amazingly underrated author is coming out with another series…surrounding magic and London. I mean, come on!!!

Bad magic, Kell had called it.
No, thought Lila now. Clever magic.
And clever was more dangerous than bad any day of the week.

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So I guess that begs the question: Well, if you love this author so much and were just so excited about it, why didn’t you read it right when it came out?? And the answer is simple, really-I just didn’t feel like it. I had it preordered, just like I did Six of Crows, but like Six of Crows I didn’t read it right away. They both appeared on my iPad and looked oh so gorgeous, but, at that time of my life, I just didn’t want to read fantasy. And with fantasy, if I’m not in the mood it sours the experience. I knew I would rate them lower, knew I wouldn’t enjoy them as much, and knew that if I waited, my fantasy urges would return and they would be well worth the wait.

“Where did you get this?” he asked.
“In a pocket in your coat,” said Lila, stretching. “By the way, did you know that your coat is more than one coat? I’m pretty sure I went through five or six to find that.”
Kell stared at her, slack-jawed.
“What?” she asked.
“How did you know what it was for?”
Lila shrugged. “I didn’t.”
“What if it had been poison?” he snapped.
“There’s really no winning with you,” she snapped back. “It smelled fine. It seemed fine.” Kell groaned.

And here we are, with SOC snd ADSOM at five stars and me at an all time high. I have been on a fantasy binge since February (for some reason, at the beginning of the year, fantasy steals my heart) and have had Nothing. But. Wins. Han, Varen, Cal, Garret, Kaz….and now Kell.

“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.”
“Seen what?”
Her smile widened. “Everything.”

My heart has been in a constant overdrive for the past couple months, meeting boy after boy, visiting some old favorites, as well, and feeling the love for them grow with each passing installment. And, if I’m being honest, this is probably the LARGEST win streak (with both boys and books) I’ve had yet. And it’s hard, I will admit, to let all these wonderful boys in to break my heart from one book to the next, an endless cycle of tortured eyes, shattered hearts, and broken voices. Fantasy boys are just…they are so hard to beat, seeing as they are always going through bad shit to get to their HEA…and even though my heart is stretching every which way to make room for them all (GAWD my Christmas list and BBF list are VERY long already!!!), it’s in a different way for each new guy, old guy, and favorite book or series (Yes, Snake, that was a reference). And I must say….after realizing this, it has made my reading experience so much more enjoyable. Why push anyone out?? I can love them all and still make room for more-I just love every single boy differently (says the book boy whore). And okay, wow, onto the point right???? Fantasy boys might just be my all time favorite boys (And that is truly saying something, seeing as how I love ALL DA BOYZ)….and Kell is no exception.

“What are you?” she asked.
“A monster,” said Kell hoarsely. “You’d better let me go.”
The girl gave a small, mocking laugh. “Monsters don’t faint in the presence of ladies.”
“Ladies don’t dress like men and pick pockets,” retorted Kell.
Her smile only sharpened. “What are you really?”
“Tied to your bed,” said Kell matter-of-factly.
“And?”
His brow furrowed. “And in trouble.”

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I swear, I didn’t think I’d fall for yet another boy this month after reading about my beautiful soldier Garret (Who has always been a BBF) and my new found unforgiving bastard of a thief, Kaz. But as it turns out? My fickle little heart moved right on over for the kind, loyal, determined, and lonely Kell. I can’t even begin to explain (correctly, that is) what it is that Kell does, but I can try to show you the basics (VERY basic, I don’t want to spoil).

“I told you the worlds would be different. But you’re right, I should have warned you. Here English is a tongue used by the elite, and those who wish to mingle with them. Your very use of it will cause you to stand out.”
Lila’s eyes narrowed. “What would you have me do? Not speak?”
“The thought had crossed my mind,” said Kell. Lila scowled. “But as I doubt that’s possible for you, I’d ask that you simply keep your voice down.” He smiled, and Lila smiled back, resisting the urge to break his nose.

He has an awesome coat-for real, it’s awesome. He loves his family with all his heart, even if he feels he doesn’t belong. He is an Antari, possessing magic in his blood that allows him to travel between the four Londons. He has one blue eye and one black, marking him as this aforementioned title of Antari and …did I mention there were four different Londons??

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“You don’t know anything about these worlds,” he said, but the fight was bleeding out of his voice.
“Sure I do,” countered Lila cheerfully. “There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

Yeah, so cool, right?? Red London and Black London and White London and Gray London. I’m not going to lie, this may have been part of why I didn’t jump right on this story. I knew this author was amazing, but this all sounded so complicated. Jumping between different worlds? Hmm.

Something flickered through his eyes when he touched her, but she didn’t think it was her touch that moved him. The stone gave a strange little shudder in her hand, as if it felt Kell and wanted to be with him. Lila felt vaguely insulted.
Sanct!” he swore at her. “Just hold it up for all to see, why don’t you?”
“I though you wanted it back!” she shot back, exasperated. “There’s no winning with you.”
“Just keep it,” he hissed. “And for king’s sake, keep it out of sight.”
Lila shoved it back into her cloak and said a very many unkind things under her breath.

But from the moment I started this book I knew that, yet again, I had picked up a winner. Strange, beautiful, vivid, imaginative, and oh so creative with a cast of characters that sneak up on you when you least expect it. This book was so subtle in it’s magic, so complex in it’s world building, yet you never felt bogged down or like you didn’t understand. And even though its not all action and isn’t completely fast paced, the peril sneaks up on you (repeatedly) and steals your breath away. I swear, every time I thought they were just chilling, walking around, something (or someone) would slip up behind my dear boy, Kell, and make him fight for his life.

Kell had fought before, but never like this, never for his life. He’d gotten into his fair share of scrapes (most of them Rhy’s fault) and had had his fair share of bruises, but he’d always walked away intact. He’d never been seriously hurt, never struggled to keep his own heart beating. Now he feared that if he stopped fighting, if he stopped forcing his feet forward and his eyes open, that he might actually die. He didn’t want to die.

GOSH I could just go on and on and on!!! But I absolutely have to just say…Kell surprised me in the most wonderful way. He was so kind and loyal and caring…and even though he barely knew Lila, the thief who helps him get out of a pinch, he was protective of her and wanted only the best outcome for her life. His loneliness speared my heart and made my breath falter more and more as the book progressed, sneaking up on me in a way I can’t help but adore. He broke down more than once and cared only about protecting those that he loved-He would do anything to save them….even at the cost of his own life.

“Of course,” echoed Kell, shutting a cabinet. “You’re very fond of weapons.”
Lila stared at him blankly. “Who isn’t?”
“And you already have a knife,” he pointed out.
“So?” asked Lila, admiring the grip. “No such thing as too many knives.”
“You’re a violent sort.”

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It’s no secret I could go paragraph after paragraph talking about the fiery Lila and the absolutely breathtaking Kell…but alas, I am tired and this review is already useless as it is. There were so many wonderfully evil things in this book I never expected, making me smile and cackle (and cringe) in glee, and it was just all so unexpected, making it all the better. And then there was the beginning of a small romance…and it completely gutted me. It was everything I could possibly want..and nothing has even happened yet! Well….kind of ;). I might give the award for sweetest kiss of the year [yet]. *shrugs* What can I say? I’m a TOTAL fangirl. 😛

***I wanted to note that this review was toned down quite a bit because of multiple things…such as:

A) Dogs in background
B) TV in background
C) Husband making sad eyes because I refused to give him my full attention lest I not be able to finish review
D) Him constantly talking to me and making me feel bad for not answering
E) Something horribly sad that happened RIGHT when I got home (or at least I found out about it at that point)

So, as you can tell, I am not completely happy with my review because I missed a lot things I wouldn’t have normally. And I totally toned down everything UGH because I was constantly trying to appease the husband. So, WHAT I MISSED AND DIDN’T TALK ABOUT:

-The spectacular, beautiful, draw-you-in-immediately writing
-Lila’s feistiness
-Kell and Lila’s hilarious banter

Anyway…I am sad, but I suppose if I love book two, I can make up for my lack of FLAIR for this review in that one ha

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Guys…..I mean, come on. It seriously takes SO much to make my heart pound during a kiss anymore. SURRIOUSLY. But GAH this one just…it was…it…just YES. And the same with peril….it takes a TOOOOON for me to slow my roll and re-read and re-read and re-read a hardcore battle or scene where someone is fighting for their lives (which, incidentally, happened a lot in this one). Happy Chelsea is HAPPY. AS. FUCK.

This book isn’t all action.
This book isn’t romance.
This book isn’t about one thing or another.

This book is subtle and cruel and beautiful and vivid and imaginative and chaos.

This book is everything I love these days…and so much more. I cannot WAIT to read book two.

And I mean….KELL! GAH!!

RTC.

BOOK REVIEW – A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

BOOK REVIEW – A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. SchwabA Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
by V.E. Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The synopsis for this book giving spoilers for book 1, I won't write it down here^^


*laughs hysterically*

*choking sound*

Why, thank you, Victoria Schwab. Please don’t mind my heart.

No, really. Feel free to crush it. I don’t do holding grudges.

Much.

Truth is, when I started A Gathering of Shadows, one of my best friend asked me if I thought she would like, and strangely, I wasn’t able to answer straight away. Color me surprised. How comes this series holds such a strong grip on me and still I am hesitating when recommending it? I understood, then. These books? They sneak up on you.

There’s honestly not that much action in the first halves of BOTH of them and yet you’re never bored. You’re enchanted, mesmerized like a child reading HP for the first time (YES, I’M GOING THERE), your eyes widening at the sight of this wondrous, original world served by its fascinating and real characters for whom you can’t help but care deeply, including :

a kickass thief who’s giving strong female-lead a new name (that’s Lila, by the way) : Remember my complaints about Feyre in A Court of Thorns and Roses? I expressed how tired I was of the beloved (GAG) pattern implying that the only reason women fought was for their families, as if women couldn’t, for the life of them, be badass for the thrill of it. Lila made a liar of me. Thank you, Lila.

Delilah Bard had a way of finding trouble.
She’d always thought it was better than letting trouble find her, but floating in the ocean in a two-person skiff with no oars, no view of land, and no real resources save the ropes binding her wrists, she was beginning to reconsider.”

a loyal magician whose doubts and outbursts make you want to both smack and hug him (but mostly, hugs). Eaten by guilt, confused by his sudden thrives for darkness (am I bad to love that part?), in need to adapt to his bond with his brother, so freaking alone and caged, Kell stays one of my favorite characters because he’s flawed and brave and endearing and oh, yes, often wrong. (MY FROWNING BOY!) (in redheads I trust) (←how could I NOT love him now tell me?)

“You could at least pretend to be grateful.”
“And you couldn’t have picked something a little more…I don’t know…imposing?”
“…A bloody handprint?” retorted Rhy. “Oh, what about a glowing black eye?”
Kell glowered.
“You’re right,” continued Rhy, “I should have just drawn a frowning face. But then everyone would know it’s you.”

a deceptive Captain who may or may not be a pirate (how’s this for awesome?). Okay, okay, I have to admit that he made me narrow my eyes several times at first. What? I come from a loyal bunch (frowning boy, remember?). But in the end, his character added so much wit and fun to the story that he won me. Also, that development? YES YES YES.

“Alucard had shaken his head, exasperated. “The accent of a royal and the sensibilities of a thief.”
But Lila had only smiled. She’d said something very similar once, to Kell. Before she knew he was a royal. And a thief, for that matter.”

a lost prince who’s endlessly trying to keep darkness at bay : Oh Rhy, Rhy, Rhy. I cannot say that I always agreed with his choices, but the complicity between him and Kell – the loyalty – prevents me for holding any grudge (if I was into grudges, that is)

“There was a new restlessness to his motions, a taut energy that mirrored Kell’s. And yet, Rhy’s was different. Manic. Dangerous. His moods were darker and their turn sharper, cutting the span of a second.”

✔ … Oh, and those assholes (you know who I mean) (there’re plenty to choose really)

As for the plot, although I was more than excited to come back into this world, and that Kell and Lila own a special place in my heart, I have to admit that I spent the beginning feeling restless because I longed for them to be together – not necessarily romantically (WHO AM I KIDDING) (THE CHEMISTRY!! GAH!), but really, their interactions? They’re the best, and they both balance each other’s perfectly. Separated, they lose a little bit of their charm in my opinion.

But.

Now that I finished the book, I understand why Victoria Schwab made this choice and the last 40%? Brilliant, exhilarating, and as far as I’m concerned, PERFECTION. There’s something to say about a fantasy plot that stays unpredictable, because trust me, when you read a lot of fantasy, it becomes rarer and rarer.

Give me thrill, give me peril, give me gasps, and I’m the happiest reader of the world.

My heart, though.

BOOK REVIEW – A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E Schwab

BOOK REVIEW – A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E SchwabA Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
by V.E. Schwab
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

What do I think? WHAT DO I THINK? I feel like slapping myself in the face for not giving A Darker Shade of Magic a chance earlier. Thoroughly enjoyable and original, Kell and Lila’s journey got me out of my reading slump faster than I could have dreamed.

Let’s find out why, shall we?

First of all, let me tell you something : I am in awe of the multi layered and unique world building V.E. Schwab created, where darkness is spreading from every pore, lurking in every London we discover. Yes, Londons, as there are several parallel worlds waiting for we readers to step through them. Four, to be exact, each and every one of them full of details and rules and history. If Kell, our main character, came up with names for all of them, I have to admit that Lila’s description suits me better (certainly because I have a soft spot for sarcastic cutthroats, but I’ll come back to that).

“There’s Dull London, Kell London, Creepy London, and Dead London,” she recited, ticking them off on her fingers. “See? I’m a fast learner.”

What I adored is the fact that even though some places are deadlier than others *cough* bone shaped floor! *cough*, V.E. Schwab did a splendid job at showing us (very important word here : showing!) that danger can take several forms, sometimes not in the way we expected. Indeed the thirst for power, for magic, hides behind every little door. This is followed by a sensation that nothing is never set in stone (hehe) : what can be better than this, really?

That’s why even though the pacing suffered a little in the beginning, I am not one to hold a grudge when the result is a fabulous world building.

As for the characters, where can I even start? Oh, yes : They’re complex and oh-so-interesting, none of them thoroughly pure or likeable, and I absolutely loved them for this exact reason.

First we have Kell, the orphaned (or is he?) magician whose loneliness fights daily with his power, whose intentions, while good, always suffer from the risks of being twisted into darkness. Yet he’s ready to do anything for the people he cares about, and his courage and wit won me pretty fast (also, his coat, duh).

And then, we have Lila, the fierce and driven thief who wants everything life can give her – and more. As far as strong female leads are concerned, Lila owns all, trust me : from her mind full of mischief to her ability to defend herself and to fight for what she wants, it was a true delight to follow her in her adventures.

“What are you?” he asked, amazed.
Lila only shrugged. “Stubborn.”

Not to mention that their dynamics together are amazing : they made me laugh and smile and tear out and fear, the swoony moments so very light that they let me eager for more.

More than multi-layered, these characters evolve, and I can’t wait to see where their paths will lead to.

► Wrap all the above in an evocative and clever writing, and what do you get? A book not to be missed. Mark my words.

Ps. I do realize that I didn’t talk about the plot and the (astounding) villain. I guess you’ll have to read it to know^^

Ps.2 I KNEW IT. *smug smile*

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